Coca-Cola drops controversial ingredient from Powerade

NEW YORK (AP) -- Coca-Cola is dropping a controversial ingredient from its Powerade sports drink, after a similar move by PepsiCo’s Gatorade last year.

The ingredient, brominated vegetable oil, had been the target of a petition by a Mississippi teenager, who questioned why it was being used in a drink marketed toward health-conscious athletes. The petition on Change.org noted that the ingredient is linked to a flame retardant and is not approved for use in Japan or the European Union.

In response to customer feedback, PepsiCo said last year it would drop the ingredient from Gatorade. At the time, Coca-Cola declined to say whether it would remove the ingredient from the two flavors of Powerade that contain it as well.

But this week, bottles of Powerade in fruit punch and strawberry lemonade flavors being sold in the Detroit, Michigan; Omaha, Nebraska, New York and Washington, D.C. areas no longer list the ingredient. Some bottles still list it, however, suggesting Coca-Cola Co. may have started phasing it out recently.

A representative for the Atlanta-based company confirmed Sunday that its Powerade brands are "BVO-free." But no details were immediately available on when the change would be complete or how the drinks were reformulated.

Acrobats fall during hair-hanging stunt at Ringling Bros.


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PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) -- A platform collapsed during an aerial hair-hanging stunt at a circus performance Sunday, sending eight acrobats plummeting to the ground. Nine performers were seriously injured in the fall, including a dancer below, while an unknown number of others suffered less serious injuries.

The accident was reported about 45 minutes into the Ringling Bros. and Barnum and Bailey Circus’ 11 a.m. Legends show at the Dunkin’ Donuts Center in Providence.

Stephen Payne, a spokesman for Feld Entertainment, the parent company of Ringling Bros., said the accident happened during an act in which eight performers hang "like a human chandelier" using their hair.

He said the metal-frame apparatus from which the performers were hanging came free from the metal truss it was connected to. The eight women fell 25 to 40 feet, landing on a dancer on the ground.

All the performers have been doing "some variation of this act for some time," Payne said, though he didn’t know how long. The current incarnation of the act began in January with the launch of the show, he said.

Northern Ireland police release Sinn Fein chief after 5 days’ interrogation over IRA

BELFAST, Northern Ireland (AP) -- Sinn Fein party leader Gerry Adams was released without charge Sunday after five days of police questioning over his alleged involvement in a decades-old IRA killing of a Belfast mother of 10, an investigation that has driven a dangerous wedge into Northern Ireland’s unity government.

Addressing reporters and supporters at a Belfast hotel, Adams said he wanted his party to provide help to the children of Jean McConville, the 37-year-old widow taken from her home by the Irish Republican Army in 1972, killed and dumped in an unmarked grave. He also rejected claims by IRA veterans in audiotaped interviews that he had ordered the killing.

"I am innocent of any involvement in any conspiracy to abduct, kill or bury Mrs. McConville. I have worked hard with others to have this injustice redressed," said Adams, 65, who has led Sinn Fein since 1983 and won credit for steering the IRA toward cease-fires and compromise with Northern Ireland’s Protestant majority.

Yet the investigation of Adams is not over. Police said they have sent an evidence file to Northern Ireland prosecutors for potential charges later.

"For all I know I can still face charges," Adams said. He said he had been interviewed 33 times during 92 hours in custody. "One presumes they would have made a charge against me. But they offered no evidence against me whatsoever."

Hope, heartache for families of others still missing in Cleveland after 3 women freed

CLEVELAND (AP) -- The house fortified with boarded-up windows and makeshift alarms where Ariel Castro held three women captive for nearly a decade is gone now.

So are the missing-persons posters that were taped to light poles and restaurant windows throughout a neighborhood haunted by the disappearances of so many girls over the years.

What hasn’t changed since the stunning discovery of those three women is that others are still missing from those same streets.

For those families given a glimmer of hope by the women’s escape, the past year has been filled with new leads, fruitless searches and, for one, a heartbreaking end.

"I can’t say we’re jealous, but we’re disappointed we don’t have that resolution," said Greg Washington, a close friend of a woman who disappeared in 2007. "We just want resolution. Either have her back or know what happened."

1st openly gay Episcopal Bishop to divorce husband; election roiled Anglicans

NEW YORK (AP) -- The first openly gay Episcopal bishop, who became a symbol for gay rights far beyond the church while deeply dividing the world’s Anglicans, plans to divorce his husband.

Bishop Gene Robinson announced the end of his marriage to Mark Andrew in an email sent to the Diocese of New Hampshire, where he served for nine years before retiring in 2012.

Robinson would not disclose details about the end of their 25-year relationship but wrote Sunday in The Daily Beast he owed a debt to Andrew "for standing by me through the challenges of the last decade."

"It is at least a small comfort to me, as a gay rights and marriage equality advocate, to know that like any marriage, gay and lesbian couples are subject to the same complications and hardships that afflict marriages between heterosexual couples," Robinson wrote. "All of us sincerely intend, when we take our wedding vows, to live up to the ideal of ‘til death do us part. But not all of us are able to see this through until death indeed parts us."

Robinson declined to comment further Sunday to The Associated Press.

Abu Dhabi’s Etihad raises stakes in fight for high-end travelers

ABU DHABI, United Arab Emirates (AP) -- Talk about some serious legroom.

Etihad Airways, a fast-growing Mideast carrier, laid out plans Sunday to offer passengers who find first-class seats a bit too tight a miniature suite featuring a closed-off bedroom, private bathroom and a dedicated butler.

It is the latest salvo in the worldwide battle among airlines for well-heeled customers. Their willingness to spend big on premium seats can make a big difference to an airline’s bottom line.

The Abu Dhabi-based carrier revealed the front-of-plane amenities as part of a broader rollout of plush new cabin offerings for dozens of long-range jetliners it plans to receive over the coming years.

Etihad Chief Executive James Hogan conceded that offering what the airline says is the first-of-its-kind multi-room suite helps generate buzz, but that ultimately it is a serious effort to bring in more cash. The carrier already woos the flying elite with perks including first-class onboard chefs and in-flight nannies.

Odessa police free 67 activists after pro-Russian crowd storms police HQ in Ukrainian city

ODESSA, Ukraine (AP) -- Hundreds of pro-Russian demonstrators stormed police headquarters in Odessa on Sunday and won the release of 67 people detained after deadly clashes in the Ukrainian port city.

More than 40 people died in the riots two days earlier, some from gunshot wounds, but most in a horrific fire that tore through a trade union building.

Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk, who hinted strongly that he saw Moscow’s hand in the unrest spreading through southeastern Ukraine, visited Odessa on Sunday to try to defuse the mounting tensions.

Odessa is the major city between the Crimean Peninsula, which Russia annexed in March, and the Moldovan separatist region of Trans-Dniester, where Russia has a military peacekeeping contingent.

Concerns are mounting that Russia ultimately aims to take control of a huge swath of Ukraine from Trans-Dniester to the east. Russian President Vladimir Putin, who calls the area historically Russian lands, has said he doesn’t want to send in troops but will if necessary.

Lucha VaVoom, an LA stage show that melds the art of Mexican wrestling with striptease

LOS ANGELES (AP) -- It’s hard to say which zany circus-like act wins over the audience at Lucha VaVoom.

Perhaps it’s the transvestite wrestler who swan-dives from a third-story balcony to pin his opponent to the concrete floor, a move equal parts stunning and stupid. It could be the two female high-wire acrobats who strip nearly naked and spin high above the arena secured only by scarves. Or maybe it’s the three-person masked wrestling tag teams each composed of a man, a woman and a dwarf.

Whatever it is, there’s little question that the esoteric hybrid of American burlesque and Mexican wrestling is an outrageous hit that could be coming to a theater near you.

"I’ve been a wrestling fan, big-time, since the days of Hulk Hogan, but when I saw this -- there’s nothing like this," said Adalid Sanchez, an elementary-school teacher who arrived an hour early to a recent show to stake out a prime spot in the second row of the VIP section.

New York has Broadway. Las Vegas has Cirque du Soleil. Mexico has Lucha Libre wrestling. Only Los Angeles mashes the whole thing together, then leavens it with ample doses of loud, blaring rock music, flashing lights, a celebrity guest performer and a cadre of burlesque-style comedians, said Diane Christensen of Los Angeles.